On Monday, The Bachelor aired its three-hour Season 24 premiere starring pilot Peter Weber, a man only known for doing it in a windmill and not being Mike Johnson. For both of those reasons, I was concerned about the new season. This is an objective dweeb with a nice smile and a golden retriever-like appearance—was Colton Underwood’s reign of terror really that long ago?—how could producers possibly drum up an entire season of drama and entertainment without an “I’m an adult virgin” story arc to lean into? Through tiny emotional terrors.
Beyond the aviation jokes and pilot puns made by all 30 women trying to shoot their shot the second they left the limo on night one (special shoutout goes to Kiarra, who emerged from a suitcase, contortionist-style) was the introduction of Hannah Brown. The women, who by that time in the night were already comfortably drunk, screamed at the sight of the former Bachelorette. Viewers knew better—ABC has been teasing “The Return of Hannah” for weeks now, but were purposefully misleading—she appeared only to return the pilot wing pin he gave to her as a symbol of closure on night one of her season. Everyone was distraught. I was also distraught, but only after Peter Weber got rid of Maurissa an hour or so later. For context: The Bachelor spent three minutes introducing us to her life in Atlanta in pre-show footage. I used to be confident that the franchise only spent time introducing viewers to players who make it far in the season. Now I’m not so sure. They’re getting smarter!
When the first dates take place, they are equally heinous. Weber takes the first batch of girls to an aircraft hangar, where they’re forced to undergo reality TV’s version of pilot training, which essentially boils down to an obstacle course in front of a giant fan while slipping and sliding on a tarp. The woman who won by cheating, Kelley, met Peter at a hotel a few weeks before the shooting, so everyone already hates her. And guess where the ladies are forced to spend the night after their big day out on the field? At the same damn hotel. For the first time in my life, I get it, this show has finally succeeded at realizing its affinity for tiny emotional tortures that only build as the season progress. I mean, the sole one-on-one date this episode, with Madison, was to Weber’s childhood home. She was forced to meet all of his family at his parents’ vow renewal ceremony. Why? His abuela does not deserve that.
A teary-eyed Hannah Brown reappears again at the show’s end, where Peter asks her to join the house. (As one woman screamed off-screen in a previous scene: Is that legal?!) She answers “maybe,” and the episode ends with a “To Be Continued.”
“To Be Continued”? This was as long as The Irishman. I don’t think my heart can take any more bitter frivolity. But I suppose that’s also the beauty of The Bachelor.